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Alaska Glacier Studies - Gulkana Glacier

USGS measures mass change, climate and streamflow at two Alaskan Glaciers - Gulkana Glacier in the continental climate of the Alaska Range and Wolverine Glacier in the maritime climate of the Kenai Mountains - striving to refine the relationship between changing climate and glacier response.

Principal Investigators:
O'Neel, Shad R.

Project Contacts:
O'Neel, Shad R., soneel@usgs.gov, 907-786-7088


Status: completed
Start Year: 1967
End Year:

Location:
Gulkana Glacier

USGS Mission Area and Program:
Land ResourcesClimate Research and Development

Web Links:
Project Website:
USGS Glaciology
Glacier Research

Keywords:
Cryosphere > Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Glacier Mass Balance/Ice Sheet Mass Balance

Abstract


The USGS Benchmark Glacier mass balance program strives to quantify glacier mass changes, climate parameters and streamflow at three glacierized basins in North America. The glaciers are distributed in different climate regimes to better define glacier response to changes in climate forcing. Two Glaciers are studied in Alaska – Gulkana Glacier in the continental climate of the Alaska Range and Wolverine Glacier in the maritime climate of the Kenai Mountains. This research is aimed at refining knowledge of how glacier-climate interactions drive socio-economic problems including sea level change, water supply and hydrologic hazards. The mass balance of Wolverine Glacier exhibits a negative trend since program inception in 1967. Substantial interannual (<5 year) variability permeates the mass balance record, resulting in reduced mass loss as compared to Gulkana Glacier’s monotonic record of loss. Glacier mass variability at Wolverine Glacier is driven by highly variable rates of winter precipitation that characterize the Gulf of Alaska region. The more continental climate that prevails at Gulkana Glacier is characterized my lower precipitation rates, but more variable summer temperatures, resulting in more sustained mass loss.

Project metadata record

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